Category Archives: Mastodon

Fossil Friday – possible mastodon bones

A common theme on this blog is that we can often get a lot of information from very incomplete material. Even so, as a general rule, the more remains we have from a given fossil organism, the more we can say about it. But sometimes we can have multiple bones, and even something as basic as a species identification can be elusive. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – worn mastodon tooth


Volunteer Joe Reavis been hard at work on a collection of fossils from a mitigation project in Murrieta that includes a lot of mastodon material. As far as we can tell so far, all of the mastodon material is consistent with one individual, although we did confirm yesterday that there is non-mastodon material in the same collection. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – mastodon molar

For the last few weeks, volunteer Joe Reavis has been diligently reconstructing a box of tooth fragments that came to the museum several years ago via a mitigation project in Murrieta, California. It quickly became apparent that the fragments were mastodon, and it seems they all come from a single tooth. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – mastodon skull fragment

After the turmoil of end-of-year administrative duties, I’m now starting to turn my attention back to the Mastodons of Unusual Size Project.The subject of these week’s Fossil Friday is a skull fragment that is being added to our dataset. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – Proboscidean tusk

While the Diamond Valley Lake Project lasted for several years, it was still essentially a salvage operation. As a result, many of the larger specimens have only been partially prepared. Our staff and volunteers are gradually working through the backlog. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – Max’s pelvis revisited

Mammut americanumWestern Science Center’s largest mastodon, Max (@MaxMastodon on Twitter) has been getting a lot of attention over the last year. Besides getting CT scans and figuring prominently in the “Mastodons of Unusual Size” project, this October marks 21 years since Max was discovered. Max is also one of the WSC’s major exhibits, and at our recent Science Under the Stars fundraiser we successfully raised funds to add new content to Max’s (and other) displays, discussing some of the new things we’ve learned. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – seven bone fragments that built a museum

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Tomorrow night the Western Science Center is holding the annual Science Under the Stars fundraiser. This year is a particularly special event, because the museum is celebrating its 10th anniversary; we opened to the public for the first time on October 15, 2006. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – mastodon skull

DSCN5560Today is World Elephant Day, recognizing the conservation difficulties faced by the surviving species of elephants. Last week, with Katy Smith’s visit to WSC to examine mastodons and Bernard Means’ visit to 3D-scan some of our specimens,  as well as needing more data for the Mastodons of Unusual Size Project, we had the opportunity and motivation to open a lot of mastodon jackets that have remained unexamined for years. This confluence of events make an excellent excuse for featuring another mastodon for today’s Fossil Friday. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – associated mastodon material

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This week we have two visiting researchers at Western Science Center. Dr. Katy Smith from Georgia Southern University has been measuring and photographing the proboscidean tusks in our collection, which we hope will lead to all kinds of new information about southern California mastodons and mammoths. Dr. Bernard Means from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Virtual Curation Lab has been here on a trip sponsored by Smithsonian Affiliations to make 3D scans of some of the WSC specimens (Bernard has written about his visit here). These visits have meant that we’ve been pulling out lots of specimens, many of which I had never seen before. Continue reading

Mastodons of Unusual Size – Denver Museum of Nature and Science 


On Thursday Brett, Max, and I made our sixth stop on the “Mastodons of Unusual Size” tour, at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Continue reading